A patent is a grant of a property right to an inventor that is issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The rights included in a patent cover the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing an invention, although this right is the responsibility of the patentee. For more information, see the USPTO's information on patent basics. Finding patents is a useful skill for both needing to patent your own work and for seeing what sort of inventions have been patented by others.
How do you find patents?
All patents are available through the USPTO, and there are several other tools available to finding patents. Regardless of the tool you use, finding patents is a long and laborious process.
The USPTO has designated a series of libraries authorized to disseminate patent and trademark information and support intellect property needs of the public. The closest PRTCs are at the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library and at the Orbach Science Library at UC Riverside.